Tennis: Medvedev puts all the pressure on Djokovic
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Novak Djokovic will have multiple players standing in his way at the US Open as he attempts to make history. The world No 1 can become the first man to reach 21 Major titles and the first since 1969 to achieve the Calendar Grand Slam. While he remains the heavy favourite in New York, Annabel Croft believes three young players could stand in his way of making the record books.
Djokovic goes into next week’s US Open as the top seed and the favourite to lift the trophy, having already won the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year.
The world No 1 hasn’t played since the Tokyo Olympics, where he was looking to become the only person since Steffi Graf to complete the Calendar Golden Slam – winning all four Majors and a gold medal in the same year.
He stormed his way to the semi-finals before losing to Alexander Zverev from a set and a break up, then suffering defeat in his bronze-medal match the following day.
The Serb then pulled out of the Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati to take an extended period of rest, setting his sights on making history in New York.
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Despite being unable to secure himself a gold medal and set himself up to achieve the Golden Slam, Djokovic remains the favourite to win all four Majors by claiming victory at the US Open, especially in the best-of-five set format.
Although former British No 1 Annabel Croft picked Novak Djokovic as her predicted men’s singles champion, she told the Express that three players would be able to beat the Serb at Flushing Meadows.
“I think Zverev, he looks to me like a man on a mission,” she said.
“I mean, considering how close he came to winning the US Open last year when he served for it, and all the tension and nerves with the double faulting, it was just the most extraordinary, dramatic final last year. And when I consider where he’s at now, he’s so much stronger mentally and so much more improved in every department.”
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She continued: “He is playing with a lot more freedom and he definitely looks like the form player going into the US Open so he, I don’t know how the draw will fall but he would be a potential hurdle along the way. He would be definitely one that would be able to stop [Djokovic] I imagine.”
Zverev has since been drawn in Djokovic’s half of the draw, meaning the two can meet in the semi-finals.
The Prime Video commentator pointed out that the world No 1 still had an advantage over five sets, compared to the younger stars.
“The only thing I would say is that Novak has been so unbelievable over best of five set matches, and for Zverev that’s been a little bit tougher. He’s got better obviously in the Slams and got himself very close but it’s still that big hurdle to overcome for all of these players,” she said.
“I mean Thiem was able to do it at the US Open last year and Tsitsipas nearly did it at the French.”
The two-time junior Grand Slam champion also thought that the Greek was another contender who coud beat Djokovic, adding: “He’s another one who could be in the mix. He’s very emotional so it does take him a long time to get over these very tough losses.”
She also tipped recent Toronto Masters champion Daniil Medvedev as the third and final player who could end the Serb’s run to a record 21st Major, saying that his Cincinnati semi-final loss was a “blessing in disguise” that could help his US Open chances.
Complimenting his game as she picked the second seed to be one of Djokovic’s road blocks, Annabel said: “I love the way he plays and I love his quirky character. I find him absolutely fascinating. I think his tennis is mesmerising, just the way he’s so unorthodox, the way he hits the ball and the way he moves, and he’s so strong mentally.”
The former world No 24 also thought that one of the young stars would be able to win their maiden Grand Slam title soon, if not at the US Open.
“It definitely feels like these youngsters have literally got a finger on some of these big trophies. They’re kind of lurking around a little too often now for them to be denied for too much longer I think,” she said.
The US Open is available to watch on Prime Video from Monday 30th August.
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